Have you had one of those days where you feel you were unproductive, although you were busy? That was me today. We left home at 8am and drove through to the church getting there around 8.40am. This is my first day in the office … actually my first day in any church office in 13 months.
Because the church has not had a pastor a quite a few years, the office was mainly used as a storeroom … so I spent the best part of the morning clearing and cleaning most of the space. Then I started doing some admin followed by preparing a devotion for the Bible Study tomorrow.
When 3pm came along, we left for home and I felt as though I achieved very little today. It was almost a letdown … first day in the office and not as productive as I would have liked. Have you had days like that?
Whilst doing the lawns last Friday I observed the diligence of ants. Yes, they are pests … yet they have a lesson to teach us.
Pr 6:6 Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! 7 It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, 8 yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.
9 How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? 10 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—11 and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.
This Proverb speaks of the hard-working ant in comparison to the lazy person. Found on Google …
A study of ants’ sleep cycle found that the average worker ant takes approximately 250 naps each day, with each one lasting just over a minute. That adds up to 4 hours and 48 minutes of sleep per day.
A day has 24 hours in it! Ants are able to carry up to 50 times their own body weight. Their super strength is particularly useful for hauling food and defending the nest. Worker carpenter ants may travel up to 91.5 meters to gather food. That’s not too bad for such a small insect. Ants certainly expose the person not working as he or she ought.
But, feeling as if you were unproductive does not imply laziness at all. In many places the Bible speaks of hard or diligent labour. Let me share a few of these with you.
Ro 16:6 Greet Mary, who worked very hard for you
Rom 16:12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord
1 Cor 4:12 We work hard with our own hands
Co 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13 I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis
Ac 20:35 “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Some of the hard work would be catering for the practical needs of people, like Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa and Persis did in Romans 16. Some of the hard work was spiritual, such as Epaphras’ “praying” for the saints at Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis in Colossians 4. Paul in 1 Corinthians and Acts 20 fulfilled both practical labour and spiritual ministry. I wonder how often their labour, be it practical or spiritual, caused them to think they were unproductive? Now look at what could be missed as one reads Hebrews 6:9-12:
Heb 6:9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Did you see it? Verse 10 is electric! God sees what we do … He sees our “work” and our “love”. Working for Jesus must be prompted by love for Jesusm otherwise it is not done “in faith”. The work and love are for Jesus and the execution of it is for the benefit of His people. Notice the past and future tense in verse 10, “helped”, as well as the present tense, “continue to help”.
When you can’t see the results of your labour and when you feel unproductive, don’t gauge yourself by standards you can’t see! If you have been working for and serving the Lord, He knows what you have done … He sees your labour and is pleased with you. Look at the phrase … “God is not unjust; he will not forget”. Don’t allow the devil to depress you because you have not achieved your standards! God sees and God knows what you do for His people because you love Him! We do not serve, work, or labour, to receive salvation. Paul is very clear on this:
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
But … once we are saved, out of a grateful and thankful heart we labour for Jesus …
Eph 2: 10 “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Whatever we do, we do for Jesus. This helps us to remain motivated and hardworking … even when we feel we are unproductive!
Thank You, Precious Lord, for the privilege of serving You by serving Your people in both practical and spiritual ways. Help us to be diligent, hardworking and creative … and Lord, help us to leave the productive side to You to evaluate. May the pleasure be ours as we bless You and our eternal family through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.